Many cities have green spaces, and coming from Glasgow it is normal to find parks and other green spaces everywhere. I guess I’m spoiled and expect to find the same everywhere.
Sheffield did not disappoint, with the Winter Gardens right next door to my hotel, the Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel & Spa. Sitting in the restaurant for breakfast and dinner I was looking out at the greenery of the said Gardens. Inspiring for the morning and inviting for a quick after dinner stroll. The second night of my stay, this is exactly what I did, and now I’m inviting you to relive my promenade with me.
In my mind, when I think about the concept of Winter Gardens, I think of a large greenhouse built in the Victorian era; so something solid, historical and traditional (like what you’d see if you visit the Botanical Gardens in many cities – iron and glass). Its also good to see some of the plants that we aspire to grow as houseplants – they need the heat, humidy and protection provided by the indoor environment created in these massive greenhouses.
The other thing that stands out to me is that you would expect to find such establishments within major parks – Botantical Gardens (both in Sheffield and Glasgow for example) as well as the famous Kew Gardens in London – not next to a city centre hotel and just off a main square. But if Sheffield can construct a seaside in the city centre, why not a winter/botanical gardens too?
As it turns out these Winter Gardens are very modern – lots of glass and beautiful wood and was constructed at the turn of the 21st Century (Opened in 2003 by The Queen). According to Sheffield Council “There are more than 2,500 plants from around the world … The building itself is 70 metres long and 22 metres high”. Its just a nice relaxing place to wander through; I really was wishing I’d brought a book to sit and read – but equally it could be a nice spot to watch the people of Sheffield go about their business.
Given the location of the Gardens in the City Centre, they are used as a thoroughfare to get around the city, but as well as a delightful oasis of calm in the city where you can sit and enjoy the lovely plants there are also various shops/concessions and a cafe if you wish to grab a coffee; you can also gain access directly into the Millenium Gallery from the gardens, and there is a sculpture hanging from the ceiling beside the entrance to the Gallery. Unfortunately the cafe and concessions were all closed when I wandered through so i can’t comment on the coffee but I was able to enjoy the gardens with 100% of my attention.
As well as the vast array of plants there were also some sculptures and art work on display; some complementary to the Gardens but there was one piece of art which was near the entrance to the Millenium Gallery and more of an enticement to visit the Gallery – I’m afraid I didn’t manage that this time, but that gives me a reason to return to Sheffield in the future.
And taking a meander through the gardens, stopping off to admire the flowers and sculptures, you can come out the other side onto the pedestrianised Millenium Square with a modern water feature, Rain, 9 stainless steel balls. Given I visited around the time of the Lionnesses winning the Euros in 2022, one of the “steel balls” was transformed into a football as can be seen in the photograph below.
If you wish to visit the Winter Gardens, they are open to the public:
- Monday to Saturday: 8am to 8pm
- Sunday: 10am to 5pm
- Bank Holidays: 10am to 5pm
- Closed: Christmas Day
I really loved the gardens, wandering through them and sitting enjoying the view from the hotel restaurant. I hope you enjoyed visiting with me.